Facebook Rejects A Plea From Attorney General, Says It Won’t Remove Encryption On WhatsApp, Messenger


Facebook has refused to weaken end-to-end encryption across all its messaging platforms. The social media giant said doing so will be a gift to hackers, and criminals. The response comes after an open letter was written by US Attorney General William Barr. It was co-written by Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. Then acting US homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan was also part of it. They argued that continued encryption by Facebook would give criminals an upper hand. It asked the social networking company to design a separate way for law enforcement to access encrypted user content.

In response to the letter, WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky said that it is simply impossible to create such a backdoor for law enforcement agencies and not expect others to try and open it. They said that it would make private messages less secure and the real winner would be the one trying to take advantage of it. “We are not prepared to do it,” the letter reads. Then end-to-end encryption makes messages between two parties inaccessible by government agencies or hackers. However, law enforcement agencies argue that a means of accessing encrypted messages would in the interest of public safety. In the meantime, the social media giant said that it willing to help law enforcement agencies in curbing criminal activities. It includes providing information on a user if there is a warrant.

Earlier in March, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg made privacy the main issue. Zuckerberg recently defended the encrypted message saying it socially important. WhatsApp and Messenger, both owned by Facebook, each has over a billion users. The social media platform is not alone in this fight as Apple too has defended the encrypted messaging. The tech giant argued that encryption let users communicate freely without fear of corporate of government surveillance. The response was made in response to FBI seeing a backdoor into iOS. The agency later had to hire an outside firm to crack the encryption. Earlier this year, a summit on the dangers of encryption was organized by the Justice Department.